Most popular stories are MAPS!

It turns out that what readers of the (online) New York Times looked at more than anything else in 2013 was actually a series of maps.  An interactive webpage that generated maps when people responded to a series of dialect prompts.  Why so popular? People like to answer simple, online, multiple-choice questions, especially about themselves. People like to reminisce about their childhood places, where their pronunciations of words were first fixed.  People needed a distraction from the end-of-the-year activities in chaotic December.  People had more unstructured and free time to hang out online over the holidays.

It doesn’t really matter why. I just like the way the application’s developers describe the statistical patterns, and the way that geography and language are naturally linked. And I love every chance available for people to become aware of geographic patterns.


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